In a more perfect world, leftover food would find its way to the starving people in far-flung places that many parents scolded children about. Instead, as Roberto Ferdman at The Washington Post notes, "food waste has become a growing problem in cities across the United States—the country throws out more food than plastic, paper, metal, or glass."
One of the cities leading the charge in the effort to staunch food waste is Seattle, which passed a law last September that requires residents to compost leftover food. The law went into effect in January, but to educate Seattleites (which is, somehow, the demonym) the city is using a particularly aggressive method: shame.
If the city's waste-management contractors encounter a house, apartment, or commercial property with garbage containing more than 10 percent recyclables or food, they tag the garbage bins with a bright red sticker. "I'm sure neighbors are going to see these on their other neighbors' cans," one contractor told NPR earlier this week. "Right now, I'm tagging probably every fifth can."
"The stickers are like getting an 'F' on a school paper," one Seattle resident wrote in an email, adding that some craftier residents were simply using their garbage disposals more to skirt the law.